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Senator-elect Jensen to be abroad in fall 2010

Senator-elect Ben Jensen ’12 said on Sunday that although he plans to serve in next year’s ASSU Undergraduate Senate, he will be abroad fall quarter at Stanford’s Bing Overseas Studies Program in Berlin.

The news comes after Jensen signed a declaration of intent in March that said, in part, that he intended to be on campus throughout next year.

“I’ll be nine hours ahead, so I’ll get up at four or five in the morning to Skype into meetings,” Jensen said.

Last fall, second-term Senator Shelley Gao ’11 was in the Stanford in Washington program and used Skype to video-chat with the Senate during weekly meetings.

According to Senate Parliamentarian Alex Katz ’12, there are currently no Senate bylaws or other rules prohibiting senators from completing part of their terms from off-campus locations.

Elections Commissioner Quinn Slack ‘11 said candidates were required to sign declarations of intent by March 18 affirming they would be on campus throughout their term, except summer, but that the commission did not fully enforce the requirement. Two candidates, Kamil Saeid ’13 and Milton Achelpohl ’13, did not submit declarations. Saeid was elected on Saturday; he told The Daily he e-mailed Slack a declaration and is not going abroad.

“Since the ‘declaration of intent’ is very vague in the Joint Bylaws, it could be argued that they did submit a declaration of intent by starting a petition,” Slack wrote in an e-mail to The Daily. “That’s why we let them run without having submitted one.”

The deadline to accept a spot in a fall quarter overseas program was March 14, according to an e-mail to program participants. Slack said none of the candidates who signed declarations struck out the on-campus provision of the statement.

Gao’s quarter out of state was the first quarter of her second term as a senator. She credits having already spent a year in the Senate as essential for her ability to handle completing her term from off-campus, emphasizing that the first few months as a senator have a “steep learning curve” and that new senators “spend a lot of time in the Senate just learning how things are done.”

Jensen, who was endorsed by the Students of Color Coalition (SOCC), did inform the endorsing group during the endorsement process about the possibility of his quarter abroad.

“We knew he had the chance to go abroad, but he hadn’t yet decided when we interviewed him before spring break,” said Tiq Chapa ’10, a member of SOCC leadership. “Other senators have been abroad during their terms before, but we know it’s best that senators spend their whole term on campus.”

Chapa is a member of The Daily’s editorial board but did not participate in the board’s ASSU endorsement interviews because of his involvement with SOCC.

The results of the election are up for confirmation at the Senate meeting on Tuesday.

— Ellen Huet

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